Ernest Health’s management team has extensive experience in the healthcare industry. We invite you to learn more about us below:
Darby Brockette, Chief Executive Officer
As a founder of Ernest Health, Darby has had a passion for healthcare since he was an undergraduate in college, which continued to grow as he served as an intern in rehabilitation counseling.
“This was a time when rehabilitation often wasn’t viewed as a key part of the healing process for patients,” he says. “It was important to provide ongoing education and develop sound rehabilitation programs to meet the needs of patients with disabilities and chronic illnesses.”
Through the years, this commitment to patients spurred Darby on to pursue a much larger dream of creating Ernest Health. The goal was to bring together the best teams possible to build small rehabilitation hospitals in areas with limited access, and to provide quality rehabilitative care through these facilities.
“People heal faster and better when they are close to home with friends and family,” Darby says. “Through Ernest Health facilities, we’ve been able to bring the highest level of rehabilitative care available nationally to individuals in these communities.”
Prior to joining Ernest Health, Darby was responsible for the operation of multiple rehabilitation and long-term acute care hospitals located primarily in the western United States and Australia. He now has more than 30 years of leadership and healthcare management experience under his belt.
Darby earned a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation science from the University of Texas Health Center in Dallas, and a master’s degree in health care administration from Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas.
He resides in Albuquerque, N.M., but enjoys “dual citizenship,” spending time in Austin, Texas, with his wife Sherry. Any time Darby has for leisure is spent fly fishing in both streams and saltwater, gardening, reading, and enjoying time with his children and family.
Keith Longson, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer
Keith is a motivated business leader who has the ability to finance and build successful healthcare companies. He brings more than 20 years of experience to Ernest Health, which includes being a general partner at a leading healthcare private equity firm and an investment banker to high-growth healthcare companies.
In 2004, Keith helped with the formation of Ernest Health, knowing that there was a strong community need for high-quality rehabilitation services in growing markets – especially in the West.
“It’s an exciting endeavor to bring specialized care into these areas,” he says. “Over the past decade, I’m thrilled that our ‘patient-first’ approach is making a significant difference in so many people’s lives.”
Today, Keith continues to actively work with the senior team to bring Ernest Health to new communities that can benefit from its services.
Keith is a dual resident of Rhode Island and New Mexico. In his spare time, he enjoys sailing, tennis and biking.
Tony Hernandez, Chief Operating Officer
As an innovative thinker, Tony has the unique ability to lead a team through the complex climate of healthcare with clarity and direction. He possesses more than 25 years of healthcare management and business development experience, with an emphasis in the development and operation of inpatient rehabilitation and long-term acute care facilities.
Tony served as chief executive officer of Ernest Health’s first hospital in Las Cruces, N.M., where he embodied the “roll up” your sleeves management style and could often be found assisting nursing and therapy with patient care.
“During these transformative times in healthcare, I think it’s important to stay focused on providing the best quality care for patients and service to our communities,” he says.
Tony currently oversees Ernest Health’s operations and has been instrumental in the expansion of the organization with continued focus on high-quality patient care. He enjoys a continual pursuit of knowledge and has earned degrees in both medical technology and business administration from Newman University in Wichita, Kan. He also has earned a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the University of Southern California.
Tony is active in community events that serve the healthcare and educational communities of New Mexico. He enjoys spending time with his family and is an avid outdoorsman.
Chris Bergh, Senior Vice President, Operations
As an avid runner, Chris is passionate about healthcare both personally and professionally. Having worked in the healthcare profession since 1990, Chris believes that excellence in healthcare can only be reached when it’s delivered through a caring, nurturing environment.Read More
“When I first joined Ernest Health, I was eager to help create this type of culture throughout the hospitals,” he says. “Now, we are committed and strive for it every day. From the patients, to the physicians and therapists, to the housekeepers, to the office staff…we all need to respect, encourage and work as a team to allow our patients to recover as quickly and fully as possible.”
Chris’ background includes experience in operations, strategic planning, sales, marketing, and managed care contracting. He earned a bachelor’s degree in from Furman University in Greenville, S.C., and a master’s degree in health care administration from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C.
In addition to running, Chris enjoys traveling and spending time with his family in Dallas.
Maureen Fakinos, Senior Vice President, Operations
Maureen takes her passion for healthcare to heart. She leads a fit and active lifestyle that includes among other things, clean eating and marathon running.
As a registered nurse and licensed nurse practitioner, Maureen’s love of healthcare began in a hands-on role with patients. “Healthcare is a labor of love,” she says. “We get an amazing opportunity to sustain and give hope to our patients and see miracles happen every day.”
Possessing more than 27 years of healthcare experience, Maureen moved from the patient bedside into healthcare leadership roles, including serving as chief executive officer for an acute hospital prior to coming to Ernest Health.
Maureen earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Phoenix and a master’s degree in nursing California State University, Fullerton, in Fullerton, Calif. She is a board certified nurse practitioner, having earned her credential from California State University, Fullerton. In addition, she is a certified public health nurse.
Maureen currently resides in San Clemente, Calif. When not working or running, you can find her training for a half ironman, raising chickens, and most importantly, spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren.
Lynn Fleming, Senior Vice President, Clinical Operations
Lynn is dedicated to helping Ernest Health hospitals get the best possible results for their patients through promoting high-quality clinical care, with a passion for the development of clinical education, patient-centered programs, and healthcare technology.
Lynn has been passionate about patient care since starting her career as a speech-language pathologist in 1986. She has worked in pediatrics and all aspects of adult rehabilitation. Lynn became interested in post-acute healthcare operations in 1994 when she helped open a rehabilitation hospital to provide services that were most needed in the community. Her career path led her to overseeing clinical care in a large network of rehabilitation hospitals while serving as a vice president of the organization. She continues in this role since joining Ernest Health – helping to establish rehabilitation hospitals in underserved areas and providing direction in all areas of clinical care of the patient.
In addition to a long history of management in post-acute healthcare, Lynn also has worked in private practice, home health, and as an independent consultant to help oversee clinical outcomes, management, and reporting.
Lynn earned a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders from Lambuth University, in Jackson, Tenn. Then she continued on to earn a master’s degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss.
A resident of Memphis, Tenn., Lynn supports The Wings Cancer Foundation, which provides service to help with the physical, emotional and psychological needs of cancer survivors. She also is a member of the American Speech and Hearing Association. Lynn enjoys collecting art, gardening, and hosting family gatherings.
Sheryl Gentile, Senior Vice President, Administration and Human Resources
After beginning her career with a national healthcare provider in 1990, Sheryl knew she had found her passion. “It was amazing. I was able to watch miracles occur every day with our patients,” she says. “I knew healthcare was where I belonged – supporting those individuals who provide patient care.”
Today, Sheryl still stands by her career decision. After serving as a regional director for human resources for 15 rehabilitation hospitals in the southwestern United States, she joined Ernest Health during its inception. She now is responsible for Ernest Health’s human resources, including recruitment, education of upcoming leaders, system and process development, regulatory compliance, and risk management.
Sheryl likes to keep abreast of current laws and regulations through regular continuing education. She also feels that she learns from her colleagues and others within the organization. “So many that come through our doors have in-depth experience that they are willing to share to the benefit of others of us at Ernest Health,” she says.
Sheryl remains active in her community by supporting the Salvation Army and animal-related charities. She is part of a group of fitness instructors who motivate others toward better health and fitness, and she teaches fitness classes several times a week.
In her spare time, Sheryl enjoys traveling both nationally and internationally with her husband. She also enjoys swimming, reading, and playing with her two dogs.
Eudora Cannon, Senior Vice President, Business Operations
As a sports enthusiast, Eudora recognizes the importance of a cohesive team and the value brought by those working behind the scenes. In her role, she ensures those “behind the scene” details are flawless in supporting Ernest Health facilities, its employees, and the patients they serve.
Eudora has more than 20 years of healthcare finance experience, with the majority of her career having been spent in inpatient rehabilitation and long term acute care. She has extensive experience in interpreting Medicare guidelines related to billing, reimbursement, and HIPAA, and has implemented policies, procedures, and internal audits to ensure compliance with these guidelines. Prior to coming to Ernest Health, she served as vice president of a large network of rehabilitation hospitals where she assisted with numerous acquisitions and transitioning of the facilities’ operational systems and processes.
Eudora was the first employee of Ernest Health who was responsible crafting all of the organization’s financial systems from billing to reimbursement. She now maintains oversight of admissions operations and billing offices, data analysis, and system upgrades and implementation.
“I love that the patient comes first in everything we do,” Eudora says. “It’s been fantastic watching Ernest Health grow from a seed of an idea to a network of hospitals that provides a level of care that wasn’t available in certain communities before.”
Eudora says she enjoys seeing how many patients Ernest Health has treated from the start. “I like to stop and think about that from time to time,” she says, “and about what it means to those patients and their families.”
Eudora earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. A resident of Trussville, Ala., Eudora enjoys running, sports, and spending time with her two children and their sports-related activities.
Danny Banks, Chief Real Estate Officer
Danny’s love of hospital design and construction began early in his career. “I was exposed to healthcare leaders who had a vision to create a national healthcare company, whereas none had existed before,” he says. “This challenged me to come up with innovative ways to design, construct, and build hospitals efficiently and cost-effectively.”
Today, Danny shares his 36 years of healthcare design and building experience with Ernest Health, of which he is a co-founder. Danny is responsible for space, master site, and pre-construction planning; equipment, furniture, and licensing coordination, and move-in and start-up of new facilities. He also works with the development team to identify and acquire land for new hospital sites, and assembles and works closely with the design/construction teams to ensure projects are completed within expected standards and budgets.
Danny has successfully completed extensive specialized training in estimating, contracting, project scheduling, project management, and hospital electrical and mechanical systems. Prior to Ernest Health, he was responsible for healthcare construction projects ranging from outpatient facilities to comprehensive hospital developments, managing estimations, accounting, human resources, operations, and sales. He has managed multiple projects, employees, vendors, and subcontractors throughout each of these construction processes.
Danny says that to be successful in healthcare design and construction, you have to realize and fully understand how design decisions ultimately affect those who will use the facility in the end – among them, the patients, their families, employees, and physicians.
Danny resides in Birmingham, Ala., and is actively involved with the March of Dimes, Salvation Army, and local homeless shelters. When not working, Danny can be found rebuilding classic cars and spending time with his family – especially his grandchildren.
Denise Kann, Senior Vice President, Regulatory Compliance
Not one daunted by a large task, Denise oversees Ernest Health’s regulatory and compliance areas of operations while balancing it with quality of care for patients. And she does it all with a positive, enthusiastic attitude.
Not one daunted by a large task, Denise oversees Ernest Health’s regulatory and compliance areas of operations while balancing it with quality of care for patients. And she does it all with a positive, enthusiastic attitude.
Denise knew in elementary school that healthcare was her calling. Now, 35 years later, her passion for the profession is still going strong. Having spent her entire career in healthcare, she has worked in a large teaching hospital and a rural hospital, as well as managing 10 emergent care sites before entering the post-acute hospital setting. She became a rehabilitation nurse in 1986 and has remained in the field since then. Prior to joining Ernest Health, she was responsible for nursing and quality for a national provider of 95 inpatient hospitals with more than 15,000 nursing employees.
Denise earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and a master’s degree in health care administration from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Fla. She is a licensed registered nurse and Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse. She currently sits on the Board of the National Association of Long Term Hospitals (NALTH).
When not working, Denise and her husband, who are international travelers, can be found searching for the next worldwide adventure – which in the past has included climbing active volcanoes, deep sea fishing, canoeing, sailing, and jet skiing. They currently are in the midst of visiting all 30 Major League Baseball parks. Denise also enjoys bowling, gardening, exercising and scrap booking.
Development & Marketing:
Angie Anderson, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Development
“There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something tomorrow.” –O.S. Marden
Angie feels Marden’s quote above captures what Ernest Health represents to its patients.
“Rehabilitation is a special environment where no one can estimate what the human spirit can overcome,” she says. “Ernest Health is a company that recognizes this. The culture is so unique and almost tangible in our hospitals. In my role in business development, I get to introduce this brand of rehabilitation to new communities, which I find to be very exciting and satisfying.”
Having spent more than 20 years of her career in rehabilitation – beginning as a speech-language pathologist – Angie has learned the business from every perspective including program development, marketing, operations, and business development. She credits her expertise to a line of amazing mentors.
Angie earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in speech-language pathology from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. She currently resides in Mount Pleasant, S.C., were she often can be found volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Angie also enjoys antiques, football, exercise, the beach, and any activity where she can include her Great Pyrenees.
Finance & Accounting:
Kristi Duncan, Group Vice President, Finance
As an avid marathon runner, Kristi understands healthcare from both a personal and professional perspective. She brings more than 25 years of healthcare finance experience to Ernest Health, having begun her career in 1990 with healthcare providers from various sectors.
From the start, Kristi delved into the intricacies of providing healthcare under an ever-changing reimbursement system.
“The healthcare industry is challenging and interesting,” she says. “I enjoy being a part of the continual evolution of the provision of healthcare services.”
Having worked at both the corporate and hospital level, Kristi has extensive accounting and finance expertise, including audit and budget preparation, financial statement preparation, and financial analysis. She has worked in areas involving cash management, treasury functions, economic forecasts, economic strategies, and compliance with regulatory agencies.
Kristi earned a bachelor’s degree in both public accounting and business administration from the University of Sioux Falls in Sioux Falls, S.D. A resident of New Mexico, she is involved in her community through running groups and fundraising activities that support animal adoptions and companion programs.
When not running during her leisure time, Kristi can be found enjoying the outdoors, riding bikes, swimming, playing volleyball, and enjoying her family, grandchildren and dogs.
David Bice, Vice President, Finance
When considering his career path, David knew that working in healthcare could lead in many directions. This appealed to him. “Healthcare finance can be very different and challenging from day to day,” he says. “Within the industry, you need to stay ahead of the curve and learn as much as possible to adapt to rules and regulations that frequently change.
The field is also very rewarding. I enjoy watching patients as they recover. And, I enjoy how dedicated our clinicians are to helping our patients return to their daily activities.”
Having been in the healthcare field for more than 20 years, David was a regional director for a national rehabilitative healthcare provider and has also worked as an auditor in a skilled nursing facility before joining Ernest Health more than a decade ago.
David earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Phoenix and is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
David enjoys all sporting activities and spending time with his family, which includes his wife, 4 sons, and a daughter. He resides in American Fork, Utah.
Heidi Hyde, Vice President, Budgeting & Development
With a love of off-road motorcycle racing, Heidi knows how important it is to be able to live life to the fullest, and she’s pleased to be part of an organization that helps people to do this.
“Life is a precious and delicate gift,” she says. “Ernest Health hospitals provide such exceptional service to our patients that I’m excited to be part of the team that helps to grow the organization. This allows us to spread our passionate care to more people who need it.”
Heidi brings more than 25 years of accounting and corporate planning experience to Ernest Health. She assists the organization with startup and acquisition proformas, annual operating and capital budgets, and total company financial projections. A certified public accountant, she earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, Ala.
Heidi is a member of the American Institute of CPAs and the Alabama Society of CPAs. She also is involved in the American Motorcycle Association and the Perry Mountain Motorcycle Club. When not riding her motorcycle, this Hoover, Ala., resident can be found mountain biking, camping with her family and friends, or hiking with her dogs.
Suzanne Quillen, Vice President of Healthcare Innovation
Suzanne is a registered nurse, as well as a Certified Nurse Practitioner, with a master’s degree in public administration. She has more than 26 years of experience in healthcare management.
She knew she was interested in healthcare when she participated in a health careers class as a freshman; she became a licensed practical nurse (LPN) before she graduated high school.
Suzanne is passionate about sustaining high quality of care while meeting the challenges of the ever-changing healthcare landscape. In her role as Vice President of Healthcare Innovation, she assists in developing new models of care delivery to meet the needs of patients requiring post-acute care. Her priorities will always be patient-centered – to promote healing, aid in comforting, and striving to increase quality of life for all those she serves. She does this in her current role by serving as a role model and mentor to new Ernest Health leaders. She also is responsible for coordinating the organization’s Leadership Development Program.
Suzanne’s background includes experience in both private and public healthcare sectors. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix and a master’s degree in public administration from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
A resident of Las Cruces, Suzanne is a board member of The Bridge of Southern New Mexico and has been appointed by the Governor to serve as a Regent on the University of New Mexico’s Board of Regents.
When not at work, Suzanne can be found enjoying the hiking trails of New Mexico and spending time with friends and family.